The doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and risk factors. A physical exam will be done. If you have risk factors for HIV or the doctor suspects you may be infected with the virus, tests can be taken. Since HIV infection can exist without any symptoms, it is important to be tested. Testing is especially important if you are engaged in behavior that increases your risk for infection, such as unprotected sex or drug use.
HIV tests include:
Blood tests are the only way to be absolutely sure of the diagnosis. These tests will need to be done even if a rapid test is positive. A correct diagnosis is important because it will start the treatment process.
HIV can progress to AIDS. The presence of AIDS is suggested if:
AIDS diagnosis. UCSF Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/aids/diagnosis.html. Accessed August 10, 2016.
A guide to primary care of people with HIV/AIDS. National Institute of Health and Human Services website. Available at: http://hab.hrsa.gov/deliverhivaidscare/files/primary2004ed.pdf. Accessed August 10, 2016.
HIV basics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/index.html. Updated July 6, 2016. Accessed August 10, 2016.
HIV infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 5, 2016. Accessed August 10, 2016.
Last reviewed August 2016 by David L. Horn, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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